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Hipolito Acosta; C.A. Heifner Education. (2012) 2012 Texas Book Festival Drugs & the Border Panel. New.

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Mexico 25, United States 20, U.s. 9, Chicago 6, Hipolito 4, El Paso 3, Us 3, West Texas 2, New Mexico 2, Margarita Flores 1, Albuquerque 1, El Salvador 1, Honda 1, Texas 1, Jeff Andrews 1, Groom 1, Vandroonan 1, Newton Vanderlinden 1, Kiki Moreno 1, Sinaloa Cartel 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Hipolito Acosta; C.A. Heifner  Education.  (2012)  
   2012 Texas Book Festival Drugs & the Border Panel. New.  

    November 26, 2012
    2:00 - 3:00am EST  

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voluntary if they want to talk or not. that they responded well and also anecdotally heard that the first that this to find out who did well and make sure everybody is doing well. >> tomorrow night 8:00 p.m. eastern on "the communicators." >> from the texas book festival may be to have the author of the shadow catcher.
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>> welcome to our panel two sides of the very public story. i am delighted to be moderating this event with two authors. . .use] and the title of his book is "mule: my dangerous life as a drug smuggler turned dea informant." so we've got a very interesting and lively set of books here. and i'm going to start by asking chris how it is that he became
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involved in the job business. >> well, my life is sort of the american dream gone bad. i was a college graduate and had everything going for me, but is living with my pregnant girlfriend at the time and we had a 5-year-old daughter. christmas was two weeks away and we repeat evicted. i had no one to turn to. i had nothing to sell. i had really no options, so he basically turned to a friend, who i thought would just give me alone because he was in the drug business. little did i know, he was basically trying to groom me because he wanted me to kneel for him because i didn't look like a typical meal. he willingly loaned me the money and of course you do in me at that point because i only asked for a loan for a couple thousand dollars and he immediately offered me suffer more than not. once the money was in my hands,
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there's no way you can say no when you're in a desperate situation. >> so you started running drugs for him? >> yes, i did. my situation is an uncommon for what she was and that to go. 51% of the people in mexico live in extreme poverty. several years ago i attended a wedding in mexico and for families were in the that one time because they had to split the cost of a priest, which was only about $40. at the end of the wedding, we decided we would drive back by the bride and groom's house to drop off some gifts and they lived in one of the collodion is on the outskirts of el paso. they had one bad. the parents lived in the bad, two of the children lived in the bad and not the newlywed couple who's going to share the bed with the parents. there was no bathroom facilities. he simply went out to the back of the house and used the space
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behind the house, the dirt to use the restroom. and when you grow up in that kind of poverty, you tend to look for any escape you can. you would willingly beg that a drug dealer would come to your house and offer you money so that you can isolate close of the bison shoes, with a nicer life. we would think that many years later the situation would be better, but with the current drug war is much, much worse in mexico. so i can sort of relate to the problems of the chart traffic and because i was in seventh situation. >> you became one of the nation's most decorated ins officers and rows in the ring through a border patrol agent to a key post in homeland security. i am wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about how you became involved with the border patrol and the kind of motivations you had at the time. >> certainly, good morning to everyone. i was born in west texas and i
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actually came from a very poor family. i was in a small place and we had a three run school that only hard up to the eighth grade, but we were in poverty. we traveled the micro-cans, agriculture chance to west texas, new mexico appeared to one of the things i always figured, i had the feeling that working hard in our country i could make it because education was the day that was very important for me. so because of the limited educational opportunities to join in a become spent four years in the military and ultimately applied for the u.s. border patrol. i was blessed with not only a tremendous career, but a tremendous family. i ended up starting along the border is the u.s. border patrol agent, going through the ranks and then i started using what i felt was a talent that i was blessed with it being able to
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integrate drug cartels, human smuggling cartels. and i did more undercover work in more criminal cases than any federal agent in the history of our government over a 30 year career. i'm very happy to share those experiences because they very unique. i was the only federal agent experienced being smuggled as a foreigner from mexico to the interior of the united states, going to travel by myself in the back of a u-haul, a chunk of a car can think of that nature. so it was quite dramatic, but it was something i did with a lot of pride because i went after those who abuse those seeking a better life in the united states and a share those stories with you in ibook, "the shadow catcher." >> there's many powerful moments that you describe. i'm wondering if you could share a couple of those with less. one that i'm thinking in particular is the juncture where
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you are actually stopped by the u.s. border patrol as you enter and you're in an operation. >> that was one of many germanic moments. a new mexico state trooper a yield through the picture in my book. i debate afro, long hair. when i told him i was a federal agent, i think he wanted to laugh it off and lock me up. but it was quite dramatic and i've been undercover by myself in mexico. i have actually been in a small hotel in mexico. it was flea infested. and sleeping on the cement floor in el paso in one room and it included women, children and myself. so it was a perspective not seen by many agents who were off. there was a lot of moments that they went through and they share with you in my book. >> another one is when you have the eventful group and you've got i think it a caravan of
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eight vehicles that are coming across in you're in the lead car in the agent stops here. >> unfortunately, that happening. i was coming through the port of entry and i didn't smell very good. i had been undercover for a period of time and i was waiting to get home after finishing this particular case. with a large group of a lot defendants and unfortunately the only one that was detained was mean. [laughter] said that was some of the dramatic times. we ultimately recovered and it was kind of dramatic because what happened as a consequence of that, ended up having to go into mexico to pursue the main target and i ended up being thrown in a mexican jail but we got very dangerous and i was lucky that i was able to get out alive because it was during the same time. but we had a drug enforcement agent kiki moreno killed. it was a very dangerous time in dangerous environment.
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>> thank you. chris, so you start running drugs for a man named jeff andrews. can you describe for us the worst experience when you're heading up to wichita, right? >> yes, i never did drugs, so i don't understand the drug culture per se, but i'll never forget the first drug load iran was over 100 pounds. and we negotiated the price. i get in the car and start driving and all i can think was man, what happens if my car breaks down? what happens if i get a flat tire? what happens if they get in a wreck? i was out over the fact drugs or in my car. at that point, delusions and paranoia starts speaking in nbc's ghost behind every tree in cops behind every bush. i really thought i was going insane in that moment.
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>> she had a particularly ingenious disguise i thought. >> well, there's a ski mountain south of el paso sectors and skis in the car at the ski report. when i hit the border patrol check point, the border agent, they'd never question me before. when i was running drugs have as much younger and of course much better looking because i had hair. [laughter] so you would've never guessed that i was involved in any sort of criminal enterprise. satisfied the part of a college kid on a ski trip and went about my way appeared it was the first time he ever asked me questions. he was simply curious about how the mountain conditions were. little did he know i was going to have a heart attack right there at the check point. >> a dimension to each of these books that i think is really striking and that comes up as your approach and that check point, chris, in which you say
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they got a white. >> yes. >> i think the issue of race in relation to these questions is really interesting. and the fact that you are industry also situates you in such a way that you are able to infiltrate these cartels without them realizing. so each of you in a certain way plays on your racial situation as you participate in these undercover activity. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about that because i think it's an interesting and often on thought about dimension of this issue. >> when i was a drug runner, it was 12 years ago and the drug problem has obviously considerably gotten worse during nighttime. but 12 years ago, cops profiled and they look for certain things. i did everything i could to not
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fit the certain profile. what got me ultimately arrested was the fact that drove a rental car in the state troopers were looking for rental cars on a freeway driving from albuquerque to amarillo and they just pulled me over right away. i wasn't speeding. of course a 250 pounds of drugs in the car. i'm not in a rush. i was doing everything i could. i was white knuckle driving, doing everything i could to keep the car straight in the middle of the road. every turn signal used, every traffic law obeyed in the second they saw was a rental car and a young kid, they pulled me over right away. he was the first time that a group the pattern that they looked for. and now of course they look for anything because the drug trade has become so profitable and lucrative. it's a $30 billion trade that anyone using anything, grandparents using rvs come to people in there as fishing boats and they go to the lake, doing anything because profits are
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enormous. so the cops are aware to look for that now. >> hipolito, how about your mexican background in relation to being able to infiltrate these groups? >> it was extremely important and yet i have to understand is that as soon as kind of thing that my spanish might not have been what it was from someone in mexico or central america when i was working on the cartels. the thing that it was brought out is the criminal element is not limited to hispanic american, but i was able to use my background again where i grew up, and seen some of the things that i grew up, so i was able to capitalize on my background, infiltrating. but what is important, ricardo, is all infiltration, and chris will agree that there's a lot of tension that builds up as your work in is federal agent, trying to bust criminals because he got to make sure you do it right. you have to make sure you don't cross the line.
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you have to make sure you develop the evidence because it's going to come up later on. and then you got a mix that altogether. and when you're out there come you only get one shot. you know, i think i mentioned in my book, you don't get many rehearses. you don't get any retakes. it's a one-shot deal. the cameras start rolling. you've got to do it right the first time and make sure you do it within the law. i think that is important in something that obviously working narcotics at the time, human smuggling. my background was a trend assassin and what i did for her country. >> that's actually one of the questions i've been wanting to exploit with each of you. you are in this terrain in which you really have to be an exceptional actor. you have to have these people believe you, believe what your motivations are, look you in the eye and be reassured that you're not going to turn them in. they know they're involved in illegal activity, et cetera.
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i would like each of you to talk a little bit more about that. how you get into the mindset that you're actually able, in your case, for example, to look at someone you know is a major human trafficker or drug trafficker and convincing. you know, this guy is very cynical. you know, he doesn't trust people and somehow you are able to make interest you and bring you into this organization. >> you know, i think the important thing was as i prepared come i did my research on the books i was working on, the criminals. i was able to change not a bad way, but i have to change my personality in the sense that once i got in, i knew that what was important on what i had to do and there is a tremendous focus. once i had that belief in myself, there is no doubt in my mind is better than a criminal.
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i remember times when i met with a major, major smuggler of pakistanis and middle eastern and adequate order. i was by myself in sitting across. this is the first time that the u.s. government agent has seen this criminal. and i have to convince them. i have one or two minutes because it is like when you are trying to sell a book, if you don't sell within the first paragraph, it's not going to happen. and i felt that way at the time. you know, i was very conscious of taking the role. i didn't pretend to be something that is exaggerated. i try to keep it low-key profile, yet at the same time as aggressive, dominate and knew what role was. as you've read my book, you'll know that i was very successful because there's a little bit of arrogance and work in the cases you have to develop because you have to believe in yourself. >> chris, i think we've got a
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little bit ahead of ourselves because you haven't even been arrested yet. let's go back a little bit. you're busted out the check point eventually. and then bring us to that moment when there's a knock on your door. >> first of all, i wanted to expand on what hipolito just talked about. most of the criminal element was extremely intelligent. they've been their organizations as a business. i know several business owners also in the level of organization, the level of skills was exactly the same. i taught college for a few years recently. i've been economics instructor. i was an mba. so reflecting back on the past, i realize how sophisticated the traffickers in the smugglers on the meals and everything they doubtless was. when you do with these people come you deal with an incredibly
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intelligent person, who you have to be dead on on your first date here you have to them it is they're going to ask you tough questions and you better have an explanation that satisfies them or they're not going to do business with you. back when i was a trafficker, everything was like that. my biggest concern was running into law enforcement. but then when he went to law enforcement, it's the same thing. they're incredibly well-trained, incredibly intelligent, good at their job come to see better have an explanation for everything. today i got pulled over they asked me come in the city been arrested before. i said i've never been arrested in my life, which is true, but they still searched the car and found the drugs and at that point i was a product of the system. what was relevant was to search was illegal. they need the drugs were in the car and they got the drugs of history, but that hasn't been in effect strategy when you start looking at the drug war. >> so you're busted.
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>> sometime later there's another legal issue that comes up. your back is against the wall and that's when you get the knock on the door. you walk out and someone says they think these are law enforcement people out here. >> i was arrested and scared straight. i decided that i'd rather be poor and free than have a little bit of money and not be a little at night. so for two years i was on probation. i patent attorney $32,000 to get me off the hook. that is something that's not really fair in the justice system. if you can afford proper representation, you'll get a slap on the wrist and that's all i got was probation. for two years of cut myself clean, but of course my friends were still trafficking drugs and they've grown their empire into $25 million a year and higher, which the dea later told me they're not that big.
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so the da came questioning me one day and not of loyalty i went in and asked my friends. i said hey, they're questioning me. you should really can do what you're doing, evaluate everything because something is wrong. my friends repaid me by having a hit and miss at my house and he described in gory detail how he was going to shoot me and my pregnant wife and three kids one by one by one by one if i ratted him out. but at that point, my decision was made because once you threaten my children, i have to take drastic measures and it is either sit there and wait and hope he didn't do anything or go work for the dea and get some assurances that i was doing the right thing. >> i think that the first meeting of the dea is quite interesting. it's your expectation that you would divulge everything that
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she knew at the time and your job would be done with them. >> like most people i watch too much television. i had my own idea about how expected things to play out. when i went to the dea headquarters and basically explained everything to them come expected them to send a s.w.a.t team and black hawk helicopters and have them into the house. but instead come after today's debate our interviews and what they call debriefings, they handed me a recorder and a wire and started teaching me how to use it. i'll never forget my shot, sitting there thinking, what is this for? they said we need to have new evidence. you're now a confidential informant. i was hanging around the guy for a year and half. i've been working a menial job getting into grad school and now i was here.
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after he told them i would never be in the business, convince them, their lives and money in drugs. and obviously my acting job was pretty good. >> so that gets us back to the dean issue. so how do you go about talking jeff sanders, the $25 million a year drug operation hide that you're his demand. because he actually wants to be his right hand end. >> when is a trafficker, yet friends in the business. he had a brother, a friend who is the best man at his wedding and yet another guy who lived in his neighborhood he knew for a
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couple years. he couldn't rely on them. he liked me because i was response he liked me because i was response he liked me because i was response do drugs. i didn't want to go out and drink and party all the time like they did, so he constantly constantly -- he trusted me to run his business and that's what he was grooming before. when i got arrested i stepped away from that. when i came back to him as a dea informant, that's exactly what i saw them on. is that i try to do things a straight way, it's not really working. give me another chance. he maybe had around him for six months, which is torture because i had to go on party and do the things i didn't want to do. i had a young family. i wanted to sit home and watch cartoons and dorothy asked lawyer with the kids. i didn't want to go to bars every night and build up that report again with the guys. that's what he had me do. >> so what is that like to be torn in that way? i mean, you've got these tremendous pressures at work. you've got this obligation to connect with this guy again and
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you've also got the dea monitoring and saying we need some more information. and you're sort of caught between two forces here. >> in life come in many of the things you think you chose chose you. he made one decision in the next thing you know, you're making another and another and you find yourself far away from where you ever thought you started. i was at the point of desperation again and that seems to be a recurring theme in my life, is pulling my hair out, wondering, what am i going to do next? how my going to survive this? , going to get through this? regicide faith entrusted is doing the right thing for my kids, but it is very difficult because you have to wear two hats. and for me, i like to be genuine. i didn't like to have to lie to my wife at the time because she didn't want to know what i was doing and i didn't like to live
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in a, but the threat my children. so at that point you have to start choosing sides and make a tough decision. >> one of the things i never thought it very much is that the ins does a lot -- it's not just specific country and specifically interdicting people who are bringing undocumented workers and so on i don't know if i pronounce it correctly, but that case was very interesting to me. what he was doing in chicago and the work you did to bring him down. this >> newton vanderlinden was a major, major counterfeiter.
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probably one of the best counterfeiters we rested in the history of our government. when i got up to chicago, our agency had had the investigation and they haven't been able to do anything with them, so ended up living with five individuals who are mexican illegal aliens and they didn't know i was a federal agent, so it sometimes come and visit my wife for a couple hours and my young son and i ended up being one of the distributors for banter name. enter an endless and individual who had been arrested in mexico. he was smuggling into the united states and many got into prison and he burnt the printing trade in prison and became the biggest counterfeiter do we ever encountered. to give you an idea at the time we arrested him the first time, he had 43 distributors throughout the united states and there's a movie that's called catch me if you can come over they make a big deal about this counterfeiter. i would put him against that individual any day of the week.
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it's kind of funny because he ran his empire by threats. he intimidated workers that were with him. and by the way, who is also a preacher. he had gotten a theology degree at the university of illinois. it gives an idea of how conflict in this individual was. then churning surf time twice. do they try to flee with the car and dragged me for about 30 years before we were able to arrest the driver. a lot of it going and he escaped to mexico after they put a contract on me and i was moved from chicago to el paso and because of the threats on my life, then german escaped from custody across the border from
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where i had been stationed. i mention this in my book was taught by $6 billion in counterfeit money he was printing a good immigration, the u.s. border patrol, and very proud of the agency we had understood department of homeland security and the agents come in three of them come which are my sons that protect our country because there's so many things they do protecting our borders and trafficking, gunrunning, money laundering. they do all types of investigations and they think the immigration agency is seen as just arresting workers here illegally and that's quite on the contrary. so we have a lot to be proud of under the department of homeland security, border patrol. i'm very proud of all the nations that work every day. >> said this guy is printing,
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what, social security cards, drivers license? when all was he producing and selling quite >> he was printing certificates of titles, drivers license, birth certificates, green cards and a social security card, any identification you needed he would printout. the sky was so good that he would print up his own envelopes and put the stamp so he wouldn't have to pay postage on the envelope that he used to mail. [laughter] it was charged as the u.s. government. and you talk about an individual that was confident. when he was called to testify before the committee said one of the senators understood he controlled most of them is that i am a control 5%. >> there's a moment when you work on the case and you are living with these four or five undocumented guys.
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one of them discoverers your identification. and so she knows that you're an agent. talk about that moment in how you handle that. >> one of my mistakes, as chris was saying, you're always on the guard. i had had my badge with some close that i had. one of the moments that i was somehow got away from me, data concerned about concern about who i was because he would visit me they are and deliver documents. they thought i was some criminal. they had come in illegally, were working well and was afraid i would attract attention to them and ultimately get them arrested. so they rummage through my clothes on one occasion when i was not aware of it and became aware that i was a federal
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agent. amongst them they decided they were going to tell vandroonan but i was a federal agent when i was not there. so it became very hairy and fortunately for me, one of the individuals in the department apartment told me what their plans were and ultimately i had to sit down with them in a very serious discussion in a very tense moment, i convinced them that it was in their best interest to not be that. and again, that's when chris was saying earlier there was moments that you have to use that particular charm or convincing individuals for times the identity will be blown. i tried to recover from it or ticket down to not be successful with the case. until we arrested vandroonan. >> what happened to these guys? >> awesomely the individuals became witnesses for the government. they were given permits to stay in the country because there was
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a long process. again, i see her country is very generous because we reward those that do the right thing. ultimately they became permanent residents and american citizens. >> chris, you are in this jam. you've got everybody all over you. you're having to negotiate the relationship and the guys all over the map. he's a very stable character and at one point, you follow him into mexico you have to get a hold of this guy somehow. >> a case began like any other case. he was one of the luckiest and
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gold shawls i ever met in my life. he was going to have a wrapping party where he would wrap the drugs to the dogs can sniff them out to check is in their journey out of el paso. and there was a small load come as he called it, because he was pretty big now. about 700 pounds. so the dea decided to follow me what we went to pick up supplies to go to this wrapping party. we get to the stoplight and we were an ugly green ford focus. well, they're just happen to be another ugly green ford focus at the same stoplight comes to the dea followed the wrong ford focus. in later on, about a year later we rented pistachios -- i rented a house in a set of views it as a stash house. i said okay. the case kept on his son, sort of dying on the vine. here i was fully committed
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because i realized that my involvement ever came out of his chest. after three or four years of those because i was an informant for four and half years, that's all my hair fell out by the way, in case you're curious. they were doing investigative work he should have because he has made 4000, 5000 pounds a month and they're telling me he's really small. i'm like okay, but that still many millions of dollars of product. so i took it upon myself to follow him to mexico. and i've lost him because when you cross the mexican border, the federales pulled me over to search my car, but they didn't do that to him. so i'm driving around frantically war as trying to find him and i rear-ended. and if he had seen me come he can know that i was trying to catch him. but in mexico if you're in a car
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wreck on me.hang around, exchange information come you don't pull the side of road or take pictures because you run because the police will arrest you until you pay for accident damages on the spot. so fortunately come he was in a big picture. i was in a small honda. he couldn't see what the target of the chart to see who hit him. i basically slumped down into the passenger seat so he couldn't see me and he drove off and i looked up and all the cars that were in the wreck was taking off and i took that as my cue to leave, too. so it was just one keystone catastrophe after another when i strain to cash in. >> i would like to ask each of each talk a little bit about the impact of this time on your families. you had a wife and children, you had a wife and children. you're both companies undercover activities. it message taken quite a toll. i'm just trying to get -- too
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bad we can't otherwise. give their account. >> you know, that was the scariest part of the whole ordeal is when i would lie in bed at night and think my kids are in the other room and my wife was beside me and what had i gotten us all into? the go was incredible, the fear was incredible. i wasn't afraid when i was chasing things around her during a drug deal or hanging out with that guys because i knew if i got shot my body would be found in the ordeal would be over with. you sort of started thinking in terms of what do i do? there was a point where the 3-year-old, 2-year-old and 1-year-old at home. and if someone came and knocked on the door, i only had two arms. i can't grab the kids and run. i can't throw them in the car. and you know how cooperative small children are. they have a mind of the runs. i knew at that point i had no choice but to fight it out if something happened in my house. so the stress was incredible. i tried not to tell my wife anything about it, but she had to talk to someone.
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i had to find a friend that i could just tell a story, like any bully would have been today? i was in a wreck in mexico in the somma shot. it tore my family apart. it cost me my marriage. as one of my biggest skills of her. she's one of my biggest friend, but it got to be too much at that point. >> i think the family firm he played a huge role in my success, not only as an undercover agent, but in its entirety, but is very blessed that my wife and i had been married for almost 38 years with four children. and like i said, they had to leave for me. i had faith in my ways and been able to share some of the things that i could come is certainly not all the details because it would've been appropriate, but i have to support in the belief that my children were taken care of, the house was there. but he also knew that there was a lot of stress.
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when i was lost once in mexico, is placed in jail, the agents went to 4:00 in the morning to see if my wife had heard from you. that's certainly not one of the better moments that we cherish because she does something had happened to me. on other occasions, there was times that i would be gone. we didn't have cell phones. we do not twitter. we didn't have internet back then. so i could go for four, five, six, seven days about communicating what i was doing. so it is a tremendous challenge. when i had a contract place i'm in chicago, i do contract when we were in the philippines, we had to have extra security precautions. those kinds of things certainly have an impact. but i have a loving family that was supportive. they took the stress while and actually they thrive on my case is as much as i do and they certainly thrive on my to coast
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through that the stories and they remember all the characters. >> i would like to touch on something that a lot of people don't think about very often when they think about human trafficking and bringing in people without papers to work in the united states. you did some work with people who are trafficking children and i wonder if you could talk about that and also talk about some of what these people who are trying to get in the united states, some of the things they're subjected to in the process. the two different areas but related to your >> big or a couple experiences. one was on a case in central america, where there was 52 children being smuggled from el salvador to the united states the united states in a company, including an 18 -month-old child been brought by the smugglers. with a particular case because there is a number of children who had not arrived at their destination, so those are the
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types of dangers that they have and there's no one to turn to. for those individuals who order their children or report their children to be brought in by smugglers, it was one of the most heart wrenching things see in 18 -month-old child being placed in the hands of smugglers who don't care about anything except money. so you know, what can happen -- i recall another incident weren't eight world was being smuggled, where she was abused by one of the smugglers, one of the men in the group, where they would use a needle to poke her legs to abuse her. so that is a tremendous, difficult thing to learn or certainly to experience. when i was smuggled on a couple of occasions, there is children with me and the groups. and for me, listening to this kid could all never forget being in the back of the u-haul with a
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six-year old child and a girl grow in the little kid is talking about the opportunity to get an education in the united states. it's heart wrenching. ultimately what made it difficult for me was that i knew that everybody in that group, my responsibility was a federal agent of the united states is going to have to arrest everybody in a particular group. i would listen to their stories and have a lot of anguish and listening because i knew they had the right desires. i remember being in a fleabag hotel for a young kid and his team said he was going to serve in the army had to fight for the united states to give up his life because he thought so much about our great country. so those are dramatic home of the people coming to the united states, but that's a mix of all such a great country. >> he for removing to q&a and give you an opportunity to ask questions of virtue authors, i wanted to ask chris about his
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views about american drug policy and the kind of collective situation that she became so intimately involved. why is this going on? what can we do about it? what is your take on the situation? what you think about it? >> since the drug war begancometh estimate we spent $2 trillion fighting the drug war. i looked at some of the stats the other day and we spend props like every year, $120 billion on policing, $80 billion on corrections and $60 billion on the judicial system, which mainly a lot of it goes towards nonviolent drug offenders. and when you start looking at how much money we spend every year and many start taking into account the human drama and tragedy taking place in mexico come exact numbers are hard to come by. an estimated 100,000 people have died over the past 10 years.
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men, women and children from drug violence. there's millions of drug refugees down there in their own country, unable to feel safe at night because there's two governments. a narco government and they run all the crime and there's the federal government, which runs the education system and infrastructure and things like that. when you look at all the money we're spending, why are we doing what we're doing? are we helping people? are we serving justice? why are we looking at the american consumer? they are the ones funding 99% of the entire problem. what's the whole point of this transaction that we spend these hundreds of billions of dollars, chileans of dollars we have all these social ills that seem to get worse every single year. >> okay, hipolito, i want to ask you a parallel question. you make a point in your book
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about, through the end of the book, you say it's not about how high we can build the fence is or how expensive the fees are. it's really about the desperation. what ideas do you have after a career in this area of how we can address this issue of immigration and employers who want workers and so on? >> well, i think it's very obvious that we have had the black from our political leaders on the immigration policy because for the pass, 20, 30 years, the reality is we finally started when i came into the border patrol we at 1800 agents and we now have 23,000. but even with the increase in security, we have failed in a lot of different ways. i give you an example. in 2000 when there was 2 million illegals in the united states.
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others estimate that 10 to 13 million illegal aliens in the united states, so obviously we haven't been doing less correct. i will lay where it should be. we haven't had a chance. we haven't had the personnel who wanted to do the right thing and do it right. our political leaders to both parties have always neglected this particular issue to be honest with you. i think we can increase our security and put fences along the border. it's still not going to solve it because as long as people need to find a place to work and there's some players in the united states willing to hire them and there is a government or political leader who don't provide the appropriate resources to enforce immigration law in the united states, were going to continue having people come into this country looking for a better way of life and also if we have a need for workers in the united states, a long time ago the u.s. government, our political leadership has given the opportunity for workers to come into the country and leave rather than sneak into the
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united states and ultimately smuggle their families into the united states. and that is what is happening. [applause] >> thank you very much. i think this is a good opportunity now to invite our guests to ask questions of our writers. if you go to the microphone, please, we cannot hear you and i'll help us respond effectively. >> if we read in the press, with the constant mention of these very large cartels in mexico that are smuggling drugs. but how far down the distribution chain to the cartels actually extend? today hired the guys out on the street of the day simply come into chicago and sell it to a middleman anyway going from the major wholesalers down, how far to the mexican cartels extend into the u.s.?
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>> when you take a quick shot at this. that's an important question because i want to say one thing about the cartels. our security for our country doesn't start or end at the u.s. border. right now one of our centers, the drug interdiction center is mentioned in the cartel president from all the cartels in mexico in about 1286 cities throughout the united states. so that's a major concern, by the way. i don't want to get into political items, but she'll notice during the presidential debate, nothing was mentioned about the security of that matter. but look, we cannot generalize on how much they controlled the cartels. we have willing participants, whether as foreigners, american citizens. we then had the unfortunate incident where we have long force on like a sheriff in south texas who was involved with the cartels and ended up being placed in prison for 25 years.
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a recent county commissioner has also been indicted for their time. my answer is there's no actual hierarchy that you will see that happen. but we have a big concern. i will also share with you in 1881, i did an undercover case, a case in chicago where i invested a gentleman by the name of margarita flores where he 28 years later at couple years ago his twin sons were arrested for being part of the sinaloa cartel. gives you an idea of what we have inner cities right now. >> you want to speak to that, chris? >> the cartels are the most sophisticated, savvy business organizations in the world. once we start policing the border more with 23,000 additional border patrol agents, they simply set up shop in the united states because he was easier than crossing the international border every single day. so these illegal immigrants that
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need jobs. to use anyone that needs money. there is no hierarchy. there is no system. it's whoever can make money and it's as simple as that. people are complicated than they used a sophisticated notion of good guy and that guy because you're too busy just trying to simplify and make it black and gray. but if there was that simple, we would've stopped the problem a long time ago. >> another question. >> yacht, it is partially answered, but i so want to ask a little bit about their opinions. >> we've got a flyover situation. it seems to me we can't get away from making a political football out of the immigration issues. and it seems to me people like yourselves are much more intimately understand the. how could we hope our
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politicians, you know, work together because they think something like the dream act and maybe some work permit type systems should help the situation. but right now it seems to be nothing being done to help the immigration issues. >> so i guess it's what can the politicians do to address this? you mentioned the dream act. >> for me coming for thing is we as americans meet the challenges and we expect our political leaders to meet those challenges instead of just working to get elected by trying to appease one member of the party. [applause] that's what we need to do. we are 12, 13 million people in the shadows were not going to deport them. as a law-enforcement officer, you'll read in the book if he broke the law, we need to make sure you get penalized for breaking the law. but not taking any action, were neglecting the issue further. >> i often say that success is a process, not a reseller.
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many law-enforcement officers had the pleasure of meeting up for my life have all said many of the same things that hipolito as saying. the process is not working properly. the politicians aren't addressing this issue. you know, we need to take a long, hard on the slick as to what we are doing to help people, to help our brothers and sisters in mexico because if we don't do that, the problem or continue to grow and take over american cities and expand the inner-city. >> think we've got time for a couple more questions. >> i would like to ask you about how you evaluated the decision to write your book because in the present some past activities, i certainly think he would've designed the exposure it would give you. >> if i may come at the an
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excellent question, by the way. i want to thank my wife for being here with me because she's been with me for 38 years, so i can't go without thanking her for that. [applause] >> and writing a book about immigration and you'll see in my first i don't deal a lot with narcotics cases because i wanted to put a face to immigration is from the people being smuggled and ultimately your responsibility do we as a government house. i took my job very seriously, but i think immigration, sometimes we see it as baseless, but our nation was built with immigration. and again, as americans were very generous. but i think also we need to address the issue the way should've been done a long time ago. >> writing my book was very simple. i just wanted to present people with a story that is possible to overcome. it's possible to make mistakes
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and home for those mistakes and it's also possible to somehow get a positive message and deliver that to other people. it was a very simple thought process. >> hipolito, as a mexican running away, i get pessimism about things getting better. but you seem to have a sense of optimistic -- he seemed to be optimistic about the future and things that could be changed in mexico. could you say something about that? >> you seem to have a sense of optimism. hipolito has been in a lot of firefights. his hearing is a little -- the question was about your optimism. he said he seemed to have a
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sense -- he's a refugee refugee from the violence in texaco and he says, you know, there's a lot of cynicism in mexico, but she seemed to have some optimism. if you could speak to that. >> number one, when we see the violence in mexico, we tend to care guys is an entire country being involved, but the reality is a small percentage of the violent criminals actually give the image of mexico because it's a wonderful country with wonderful people. now having said that, i think the political leaders need to take the appropriate action to protect the population and i think they realize they must do that. they have to take control. they think the measures are going to see with the new administration are going to be important steps in taking the country back because if they don't, i don't know what the answer ultimately is going to be. i think the political leaders there, the new administration coming in know what action they
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have to take anything to see some changes in the next six to 10 months in mexico on what they need to do to take a country back. >> if i could add something to that or an additional observation. because in your book, you talk about working with mexican law enforcement. i think americans have a very sort of homogenous view of mexican law enforcement. but some people you talk about his being clearly corrupt and participating in criminal activities and there's other people that you work with that she trusted that actually were key players in the actions you were taking. if he could speak to that because i think it speaks to the issue of cynicism and pessimism. >> for the audience, i was assigned with their diplomatic unit in mexico for eight years, so i actually was on the ground in mexico for a number of years
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and i did a major case covered in my book on a major trafficker with the nickname but also. i had to defend the law enforcement officials are a lot of them were paid very low wages, ultimately the system itself pushed them to take money in order to survive. we have to continue working because one thing we don't want to do, we have our own work to do inside the united states. they should be doing their own. we can support them and there's many people willing to do that and i think we're going to be seeing that more in the future. they train the officers in mexico. there's people willing to work and we've seen many die within the past two years trying to enforce laws against the cartel.
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>> should we go to the next question? >> when you're in a tough situation, if you don't have a positive attitude, there's no way you're going to survive. he wake up every single morning assuming you're going to survive the day and somehow get to the next day were you can start over again. it was a tough, tough way. if everyone could do it, everyone would be doing it. yes, positive attitude is very important. >> another question. [inaudible] >> movie deals. have either of you been approached with movie deals? >> thank you for asking. [laughter] i'm proud to say that i've actually signed the colder productions in los angeles, the producer of all about jack has signed us up at our book has
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become the option, so we're very hopeful. i'm sure if you read text message or twitter, we'll get it. thank you. [applause] he met chris, have you landed an elusive movie deal yet? >> no, i haven't. i'm hoping for negotiations with anyone -- we know the mafia in this country became strong after public is a shame. what is your problem should marijuana be legalized in the mid-states and taxed? [applause] >> technically marijuana has never been legalized anywhere in the world yet it's been decriminalized. i'm sort of torn on that issue because i have four children. i don't want them to experiment with the drug convict the same time they realized as an economist that he take the
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profit motive away from the cartel's come and they eventually will cease to exist. the initial pain would be unbelievable, but it's difficult to say what direction that would go in. but i do think it would in the short-term the pain would be unbearable and that's why politicians are afraid to address the issue. they keep pushing it off until the next election. >> as a law enforcement officer for 30 years, the cartels are a vicious criminal elements and regardless they'll seek to continue their criminal elements connected beyond the street in my view as a law enforcement officer as they break the law, they should go to jail or be punished appropriately, regardless of what the sensei k. so if we want an effect on the cartels, the mexican government and law enforcement in the united states would address them and actually arrest of individuals to break the law. >> thank you. and i think that's the last

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